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Are You Writing A Book Based on Your Life? Tips from an Author

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With blogging stoking so many creative fires out there, and self-publishing being easier than ever, more and more people are considering writing books of their own. And since pretty well everyone says "write what you know", most people start with autobiographical works. In the last year, I've been asked to contribute chapters for four books, all requiring varying degrees of self-revelation. At first it was a piece of cake, because I was writing with my professional hat on. A funny thing happened on the way to Become Your Own Great and Powerful, though. I was asked to tell MY story. The woman behind her work, behind her marriage, behind all that safe stuff. Suddenly I realized it's one thing to give examples and another ENTIRELY to be one!

If you are involved in a similar project, or considering it, maybe I can help smooth the path for you. Here are the decision points I came to along the way.

First decision: What is my story?

When you reflect on your life in earnest, it is amazing how many threads you will find in your personal tapestry: career threads, relationship threads, family history, medical history… childhood threads, adult threads. My task was to look over my life and find that that best expressed what I had come to believe about personal power. I speak with others about such concepts all the time but the process of tracing the lineage of one's own world view is quite remarkable. If you look back at issues such as power, trust, faith, leadership, self-esteem, success or failure and trace your history with that concept it's amazing to see what emerges. I highly recommend it.

Second decision: Who is telling this story?

If you are like most folks, you have many versions of your life story. We each possess a private and a public self and within each of those selves are a myriad of micro-selves. For every vignette deemed relevant to my story, I was aware that several versions of me were competing to tell the tale. I might relate a story one way if the audience were my husband and another if it were my sister, or a client, my husband's boss, or a neighbor. Details would be altered and the emotions I would reveal would hinge upon the nature of my relationship with the audience and my comfort in the revelation. For me, reflecting on the issue of personal power, I knew my private self would have to be revealed.

Third decision: Egads! Am I really willing to tell you that story?

Having picked up my thread, and cleared my voice, I began to craft my story. With wonderful feedback and encouragement from my support team I immersed myself in my writing. "I can't wait to read the next part!" was the consistent response. Then it happened. Have you ever been in the middle of telling someone a story when you realize you are heading smack in to a detail or six that you really don't want to share but are already committed to telling? Well, there I was, rolling merrily along and suddenly I realized that gaining personal power in the long run is also about all those times you lost it, or gave it away, or simply made a bad move.

I was kind of hoping to tell you the version about the hip coach who always had her act together and has been a paragon of strength and wisdom since birth. Sad fact is, I had a few missteps along the way and if I only told you the highpoints I'd have some mighty big gaps in my story. It's the same problem you face if you have long gaps on a resume. You can try to spin it in an interview, but part of you knows you were eating Doritos on the couch and watching Jerry Springer at least some of the time you were licking your "right-sized" wounds.

I took the plunge and continued to write.

The Ultimate Question: Can I stand with my own humanity?

Am I willing to do that even if I am not sure who will stand alongside me? For me, the answer has been YES! Embracing my own journey means embracing all of it and not shying away from the parts I'd rather forget. It means accepting myself even through times of confusion, bad decisions, and… embarrassing haircuts. It's easy to have self-esteem when you are winning the game. It's much harder to love oneself through the dark times.

In the end, it's such a rewarding process to undertake a process like this, even if you suspect it will just end up in the bottom of a drawer somewhere. Telling the real story, if only to yourself, may be the most important thing in the end.

Happy writing!

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About Laura Young

  • Tammy

    Thank you ! very helpful

  • Sarah

    I need help.I’m eleven and I started to write books.My first book is about my life and I didn’t finished it yet.But I plan to continue it.My Friend(she is adult) said that I could publish my book when I finish it.But I don’t know if that’s true,because of my age.Can you help me?Can I publish my book,even if I’m eleven?

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    You can, although unless you’re a true literary prodigy your age is against you. I suggest you check out some books about writing and getting published from your local public library. Or join a local writers’ club where you can share and get feedback on your work.

  • Georgie

    So im writing a book about my life! Im kind of jumpin from one year to another and its making me mad. I wnt da world to kno my storie! But I jus cant seem to get it on paper! Will you contact me and help me its a good storie!

  • drgh

    i didnt get what i wanted

  • jada beck

    I am trying to write a book about my life. The things I went through I would love to share with others cause your story about life might help some one else to close doors that need to be shut. Life is great and some people need that old life behind them.

  • richard

    Hi i would like to write about my life as its been full of a variety of things, most would say bad, ive had cancer twice but that experiencr is one of a number including two other cronic conditions, plus family , overcoming addictions, mental health, carrer highs and lows, luck and bad luck and im only 33, i dont no what i should call it and have as the main theems , i have terrable spelling and gramma and i would like to know what most people would be interested in not just what i thought was shocking or interesting?

  • Zabde-Ezra Ayienga

    I would like to send to you a paragraph or two of why I strongly feel my story need be told. I am overwhelmed right now by competing details and are in need of a coach who can listen to me “ramble” and then separate what I will need for my book. It is based on the charity I founded, called “30 000 Village Kids Reading”

  • Sean

    Hi Laura, thanks for your tips. I am now beginning to write my memoirs but needed some professional guidance when I saw your tips. The book will cover my life as a young caribbean boy who suffered some internal and external pains trying to find acceptance, love and success. I have had lots of international work and living exposure that will make up parts of the story but most will be personal. I would love if you can coach me. Feel free to respond to ggift24@gmail.com so we can communicate personally.

  • Ellie

    Hi im thinking about writting a book about my life making awareness of an illness i got which wernt my fault and how i was bullied through school and made feel worthless. Also about the abuse i had as a young kid. Im not sure where to start. I have reached failure point in my life more then 5 times and now im willing to write about it. Feel free to droo me an email at any time dreamtome07@hotmail.co.uk… Thank you :-) x

  • Chris Cook

    Thank you for writing this infirmation down. I feel a burning desire to tell the story of my life, but really just for me and my wife. I could care less if it is ever published. I beleive when its done it would be a good read for others, but have no illusions of ever making a dime on the book. Your last few sentences confirmed my feelings that this needs to come out because I feel excited on the inside just thinking about working on it, now! Thank you.

  • Bree

    Hi, I am wanting to write my story. My life to me has been unusal. I need to ask a question. Can I use other peoples name in it or do I need to change names? If I use real names can they sue me?